I cannot believe this season of 20 Questions Homesteading Style is coming to a close. We are definitely ending on a really high note with Cris at The Homestead Garden, because she has got some great responses [especially with her funny story].
This project is a dream come true from working with homesteaders I admire and learn from consistently to seeing how diverse homestead living truly is. The one thing I have noticed across all stories is that when you have a passion for this way of living, it doesn’t matter how hard the work is. You’ll find a way to make things work.
I love that determination and drive all of these homesteaders have shared with us. It makes me want to get out there [yes, during the winter months] and plant my entire garden. Of course, that would be foolish, but that is how excited I am to get to work.
Now that my long introduction is out of the way, why don’t we get to Cris’ interview, because it is a really good one!
20 Questions Homesteading Style – Cris @ The Homestead Garden
Please introduce yourself & your blog.
My name is Cris and I write at The Homestead Garden. I write about gardening, as well as herbal remedies, homesteading, real food recipes, and anything else that sounds like fun. My desire is all about finding joy and knowledge in the land.
How did you start your homesteading journey? How long ago was that?
I’ve been passionate about gardening since I was a child, helping my mom grow vegetables and flowers. In 2009, we bought our first home with a tiny yard, and I filled every possible space with plants.
At some point around then, I also learned about herbal remedies and they were really helpful with reducing my constant migraines. That is when my quest for natural living, organic gardening, and self-reliance really took off.
How big of a property do you currently have for your homestead? Do you think that is ideal for you or do you dream of changing that one day? Why?
I currently have 2.22 acres. We saved up for almost 2 years to be able to afford that much property, and at the time, I thought it was HUGE. I love our land, however, my dream homestead would be between 5-10 acres so I could have a bigger orchard and more animals. If that never happens, though, I am happy with the land we have.
What is your favorite thing about the homesteading lifestyle?
There are two favorite things about homesteading. First, it makes me feel empowered. Growing and preserving my own food, making my own remedies and skincare products, etc….it puts a smile on my face because I know my ingredients.
The second thing is that homesteading is a physical workout that I actually enjoy. I hate going to the gym. However, I can wheelbarrow heavy compost piles all day long, ending with sore arms, back, and legs, and a happy heart.
What is your least favorite thing about the homesteading lifestyle?
Death. Whether plants or animals, you put your heart, soul, and energy into bringing life to the homestead, and yet…sometimes things go wrong and there is death. Sometimes, I feel like it’s my fault, and sometimes it’s just a natural occurrence and it can make you feel a bit helpless and sad. This is how I try to recover from a poor gardening season.
What does a typical day on your homestead look like?
I work full-time at home on my computer, so I tend to make homesteading work within that schedule.
8am: feed and water for the rabbits, and check on any rabbit babies, etc.
12pm: check on the rabbits, especially the rabbit babies, clean out the rabbit nests with fresh hay, etc.
4-6pm: work in the garden, give the weeds to the rabbits, bring rabbit poop to my garden, and check on the rabbits again before heading inside.
I spend more time in the garden on the weekend. I also spend more time changing out frozen water bottles for the rabbits during the winter and more time in the summer trying to keep the rabbits cool.
What animals do you have on your homestead, and what is their purpose?
We only have meat rabbits right now. They are for meat and also their poop is amazing for the garden.
What is your favorite thing to grow? Why?
That is a hard question for a passionate gardener! I suppose it would be peppers. My South Carolina heat provides me with many varieties of peppers, and they last all the way until the first frost in November.
Are you a seed saver, do you order seeds, or a combination of both?
I currently do both. I’ve been learning about saving seeds slowly in order to prevent garden burnout/overwhelm. Right now, I’m saving seeds for my kale and other salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, and I keep a few bulbs of garlic for the next year as well as potatoes. I’ll probably always buy at least a few new seeds each year because I love trying new varieties.
Are there any animals or plants you don’t have currently, but hope to one day?
If everything goes well, we will have ducks for both meat and eggs this upcoming fall season. If we end up with more property someday, I would LOVE to have sheep and maybe a few dairy goats.
What are some of your favorite things to make?
I love my sore muscle salve recipe. I work hard in my garden, and I almost always lose track of time. Sometimes, on the weekends, 5-6 hours will be gone in a blink of an eye and I’m very grateful to use my sore muscle salve on my aches and pains.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned on your homestead?
Patience! Homesteading can be expensive, and we have a very tight budget. That means that yeah, while I wish we had more livestock and a developed orchard, these things take time and money.
What is your favorite recipe to cook from scratch?
This past summer, I started making homemade hot sauce. Now I’m addicted to making my own hot sauce varieties, and I’m looking forward to inventing more hot sauce variations with this upcoming summer’s pepper produce!
What homesteading skills are you thankful for learning?
How to preserve my gardening crops for the winter. It seriously makes me smile every time I reach for something like a home-canned jar of tomatoes. 🙂
What homesteading skills are still on your list to learn?
I’ve been wanting to learn how to make cheese, sausage, and bread for over a year now. I’m hoping to start making homemade cheese later this year.
What is the funniest thing that has happened on your homestead?
Recently, I was digging for potatoes in the potato bed. I had tried (and failed) with an experiment with growing them over the winter. I hoped that some potatoes had survived so I wouldn’t have to buy new potatoes to plant. I had put a HUGE pile of leaves on the potato bed in an attempt to winterize them.
As I moved the leaf pile, a fist-sized gigantic spider tried to attack me, and her sack of eggs burst open, baby spiders were everywhere. After screaming a bit, I moved to the opposite part of the garden bed. I dug into the earth and a cricket that had been hibernating there jumped in my face. After some more screaming, my adrenaline was pumping, and I moved to another spot to try again.
I reached into the soil, took out what seemed like a potato, and it squirmed in my hand. More fright occurred as I realized that it wasn’t a potato, it was a hibernating toad. I then quit trying to find potatoes and went inside for a glass of wine and I called it a day. 😉
When you are having a hard day/week, how do you keep yourself motivated?
I always find solace in my garden. I like to sit on my garden bench and take a few minutes to just sit and be at peace. It grounds me and gives me the energy for another day.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start their homesteading journey?
Start slow. Homestead/Garden Overwhelm is a real thing and it’s the one thing that can ruin your homesteading adventures. Start with a small garden, or just a handful or chickens or whatever, but start slow so you can learn a bit at a time.
When it comes to resources, what are some of your favorites?
What are you most excited for in 2019 on the homestead and for your community?
We are finally adding fruit to this homestead plot! We’ve just planted a fig tree and cherry tree. Next up (when they arrive in the mail) is the blackberries, boysenberry, and huckleberry plants and some hawthorn trees.
I am also writing a gardening book this year, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world sometime in the next year! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed Cris’ responses and head to her blog, The Homestead Garden, to see what else she has to offer!
What was your takeaway from all that Cris’ shared? Mine was to not worry with digging for potatoes 😉 Let me know your’s below in the comments!